Published on : Friday, June 10, 2016
Follow-up research into pledges made by tourism businesses at Tourism NI’s (TNI) Year of Food and Drink roadshows last year has found the vast majority of respondents have put their plans into action and are reaping benefits from their activity.
TNI’s Research and Development unit carried out the research after the series of roadshows which took place in Derry, Armagh, Ballynahinch and Enniskillen between 29 September and 2 October last year.
The survey, which asked whether pledges had been implemented, what additional activity had been generated and what respondents would like to see as the legacy of the Year of Food and Drink (YoFaD), was completed last month and saw a number of common themes emerge. Collaboration, awareness, the use of local produce and tying into bigger events were chief amongst those themes. Respondents ranged from small B and B owners, colleges, marketeers and holiday providers to government departments and local councils.
Garden Show Ireland, which took place in Antrim Castle Gardens in May, encompassed the range of common themes highlighted by respondents by creating a ‘Best of NI Local Produce’ area at the show in collaboration with seven local councils. Other elements of YoFaD incorporated into the event included cooking demos by local and international chef using local produce, a primary schools’ ‘edible gardens’ segment, talks by garden experts on growing fruit and veg and the promotion of local allotments.
Claire Faulkner of Garden Show Ireland said that promotional opportunities had also been increased through collaboration with local suppliers adding, “Increasing awareness by being seen to be part of a national campaign was useful and we did that by using the YoFaD branding throughout our own promotion.”
Damian Donnelly of Ad_Man Creative Marketing – an ‘active and ardent supporter of YoFaD’ – also followed through on a range of activity including a programme of marketing workshops; one-to-one advice for the food, drink and hospitality sector; the setting up of a #foodmarketingni Twitter account and a YoFaD blog as well as delivering a presentation at a major food tourism conference. Looking forward to what he hoped to see as the legacy of YoFaD Damian said, “Empowerment, capability and motivation to continue telling the story of our food and drink and the places it comes from.”
Collaboration, events and awareness were to the fore again in the YoFaD activity enacted at Castle Archdale Caravan Park in Fermanagh who have planned a full programme of innovative events in line with the YoFaD monthly themes and are working closely with local suppliers. Having already hosted a Bacon and Boxty event in March’s Heritage and Traditions month, beer and cider tastings in April’s Brewing and Distilling month and a foraging walk in Landscape and Places month in May, they tied in with Glastry Farm for an Ice Cream Sunday last weekend and are teaming up with O’Doherty’s Fine Meats for a Black Pudding festival in Love Meat month in August.
“Some of the suppliers we have worked with had never been to Castle Archdale before so that in itself will be an advertisement for our business,” said Mandy Ellis from the caravan park. “We have also had some great press coverage and Facebook traction through YoFaD related events. The number of local people calling in more regularly now has also increased as they become more aware that we are actually a very affordable day out. They are not only using our food offerings but are being introduced to our facilities and we anticipate that this will convert into more pitch nights booked during July and August when people will want to be onsite for our various events.”
In his response to the TNI research James Huey of the Walled City Brewery welcomed the media spotlight provided by the Year of Food and Drink saying the increase in coverage had translated directly into ‘a tangible bounce in bookings amongst tourists and locals’.
James’ innovative brewery and restaurant developed a number of new world beers in line with the theme for each month which so far have included a Bacon Beer called ‘Snout’ for Breakfast Month, a ‘Love LocAle’ in February and a Crubeens and Stout for March’s Heritage and Traditions month.
Collaboration, the use of local produce and the creative utilization of byproducts have also been embraced at the brewery.
“We have certainly pushed the use of local ingredients both within the business and also on the social media front,” said James. “We have begun collaborations with a local chorizo company and our local craft butchers to make milk stout sausages and we are also investigating the opportunity of using our used brewers’ grain and yeast to feed cattle and pigs then to use the meat for the restaurant.”
James added that another benefit of the initiative was a sharp focus amongst business owners and employees on local produce.
“We have incredible local produce on our doorstep and don’t need to import our ingredients and raw materials and the Year of Food and Drink is a fabulous platform for us to really show what NI can do when we all pull together.”
Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism followed through on its pledges to support the YoFaD through a range of marketing initiatives and is also working closely with Erne Water Taxis on a water-based food trail in Fermanagh, as well as planning a restaurant week in the county later in the year.
Tanya Cathcart said of the TNI programme, “As a marketing organization we can offer another marketing platform for our members and show them how they can use the YoFaD to promote their premises or event. YoFaD offers Fermanagh an opportunity to showcase its food related experiences. By encouraging further food and drink related events it will encourage visitors to stay, repeat their visit and spend money in local restaurants and accommodation facilities.”
Source:- Tourism Northren Ireland